Maids Take Self-Defense Class After Hotel Sex Assaults

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2011  |  Updated 8:55 AM EDT
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Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn put a global spotlight on sex assaults against hotel housekeepers after he was charged with attempted rape of a maid at Manhattan's Sofitel hotel.

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Maids at one posh Manhattan hotel have a new line of defense when it comes to handling any lewd guests who may try to grope them: their fists.

Dozens of hotel housekeepers and other staffers at the luxury Pierre hotel participated in 30-minute self-defense classes with a second-degree-black-belt trainer on Tuesday, reports The New York Post.

The martial-arts instructor taught participants a slew of valuable skills, including the proper way to deliver a forceful punch and maintain their personal space by stamping on a crude guest’s toe with their high-heeled shoes if necessary.

The Pierre-provided classes come about a month after a high-profile Egyptian banker was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a maid at the hotel.

Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar pleaded guilty late last month to a misdemeanor sexual abuse charge, acknowledging he kissed the woman on the lips and neck and touched her breasts after she brought tissues to his room. He had been charged with first-degree sex assault, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

The plea deal allowed the 74-year-old chairman of state-run salt production firm El-Mex Salines Co. to return to Egypt and avoid jail time.

At least one of the participants in the self-defense class said she felt ready to take on any individual who posed a threat.

“She was testing you,” the staffer told the Post, speaking of the instructor. “I feel prepared.”

Omar's June arrest came about two weeks after then-International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested on charges of attempting to rape a maid at a different hotel, charges Strauss-Kahn denies.

Together, the cases drew attention to the potential dangers of hotel maids' jobs.

The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council plans to call for panic buttons as part of its contract negotiations with 150 hotels next year, and a state legislator has proposed to require the devices statewide.

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